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Full text of "A history of Persia"

494                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                  CHAP,
about 50 per cent above the legal tax was levied, they
were nevertheless light. In some cases villages had
grown enormously, and as the tax remained stationary it
was purely nominal.
The tax on tradesmen ajid artisans was levied on the
guilds, each guild being responsible for a certain sum.
The poll-tax was calculated at about eight shillings per
family ; but here again the assessment was on the villages
and not on the individual. Taxes on sheep, etc., were
levied at the rate of about sixpence per sheep ; but the
assessment was very imperfect. The nomad tribesmen,
who are the largest owners of sheep, paid taxes through
their chiefs. The taxation of mines included that on the
famous turquoise mines of Nishapur.
It must not be supposed that only legitimate taxes
were levied in Persia. On the contrary, the ingenuity of
the tax collector was remarkable and instances of fantastic
imposts have from time to time been brought to my
notice. For example, a certain village was called upon a
century ago to provide a cradle for the son of a governor ;
and a sum of money is still levied annually on this account.
Charges to maintain sowars to fight the Turkoman, to
provide cartridges, to provide horses for the royal stable,
etc., etc., are still exacted in many parts of the country.
A Persian Village.  By way of conclusion to this
chapter I will give some account of a typical Persian
village, followed by the description of a peasant.1 In
both cases I have made a comparison with the Panjab,
which contains the finest and best-fed peasantry in India.
One great difference between a Persian village and
one in- the PanjaS is that in the former the villager can
do any kind of work. Consequently, he is not obliged
to keep parasites to skin his cattle and perform other
tasks which religion or custom forbids him to do ; in
other words there is no caste.
A Persian village is frequently enclosed inside a high
mud wall, in which case the houses are small and squalid.
Usually, however, they occupy a good deal of room ; and
1 These studies are based on my Report on the Agriculture of Khorasan, published by
jjie ppyeniment of India in 1910.